Prevention measures even more critical as first COVID-19 death reported in Rohingya refugee camps

The first death of a Rohingya refugee, a 71 year-old male, from COVID-19 has been confirmed in the camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

“This is tragic news, but sadly not unexpected,” says Rachel Wolff, World Vision Response Director in Cox’s Bazar. “COVID-19 has claimed hundreds of lives in Bangladesh and now it has struck in the camps.

The encouraging fact is that NGOs and UN agencies have slowed the virus spread by ramping-up prevention measures in one of the most densely populated places on Earth. This will be even more critical moving forward.”

As of May 31, there are currently 29 confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst the refugee population of 860,000 in the camps, according to the World Health Organization. In the wider Cox’s Bazar district, 702 cases are confirmed with 13 deaths. More than 49,500 cases are reported across Bangladesh with 672 deaths. Numbers continue to rise.

“We are weighing the risks of re-opening much-needed services for refugees while keeping them safe in this makeshift city of almost a million people,” says Wolff. “

For instance, World Vision plans to re-open our 42 community kitchens where 1000 women cook in shifts daily, but not before we’ve provided refresher training on social distancing.”

Humanitarian health workers in Cox’s Bazar are working to ensure that testing is available to refugees and that those identified as COVID-19 positive have adequate facilities in place to care for them. Contact tracing and quarantine measures are being conducted with those who may have been exposed.

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